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The Obama/Joker Poster Is Racist, Says a Washington Post Article by the Newspaper's Culture Critic:

How is that, pray tell? Here's the argument:

Perhaps because the poster is ultimately a racially charged image. By using the "urban" makeup of the Heath Ledger Joker, instead of the urbane makeup of the Jack Nicholson character, the poster connects Obama to something many of his detractors fear but can't openly discuss. He is black and he is identified with the inner city, a source of political instability in the 1960s and '70s, and a lingering bogeyman in political consciousness despite falling crime rates.

The Joker's makeup in "Dark Knight" -- the latest film in a long franchise that dramatizes fear of the urban world -- emphasized the wounded nature of the villain, the sense that he was both a product and source of violence. Although Ledger was white, and the Joker is white, this equation of the wounded and the wounding mirrors basic racial typology in America. Urban blacks -- the thinking goes -- don't just live in dangerous neighborhoods, they carry that danger with them like a virus. Scientific studies, which demonstrate the social consequences of living in neighborhoods with high rates of crime, get processed and misinterpreted in the popular unconscious, underscoring the idea. Violence breeds violence.

It is an ugly idea, operating covertly in that gray area that is always supposed to be opened up to honest examination whenever America has one of its "we need to talk this through" episodes. But it lingers, unspoken but powerful, leaving all too many people with the sense that exposure to crime creates an ineluctable propensity to crime.

Superimpose that idea, through the Joker's makeup, onto Obama's face, and you have subtly coded, highly effective racial and political argument. Forget socialism, this poster is another attempt to accomplish an association between Obama and the unpredictable, seeming danger of urban life. It is another effort to establish what failed to jell in the debate about Obama's association with Chicago radical William Ayers and the controversy over the racially charged sermons of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Obama, like the Joker and like the racial stereotype of the black man, carries within him an unknowable, volatile and dangerous marker of urban violence, which could erupt at any time. The charge of socialism is secondary to the basic message that Obama can't be trusted, not because he is a politician, but because he's black.

Joker = "urban" = "inner city" = black. True, he's white, Heath Ledger is white, but ... But what exactly? All references to white "urban" criminals are actually secretly to blacks? The references to William Ayers were, too?

Also, if we're looking for supposed racial connections here, wouldn't the Socialism reference cut the other way? Karl Marx, François Mitterand, Bernie Sanders, no? Or does even Socialism (which to Americans is mostly a European phenomenon, with pockets of support among mostly white prominent American liberal academics) still become black when coupled with the Joker -- who is white but of course black because he's urban and a criminal?

Quite an argument, it seems to me. Thanks to Jules Crittenden for the pointer.

John Thacker (mail):
A better argument would simply be that the Joker is not associated with socialism in any sense, and anyway, if you wanted to make a Dark Knight reference, it would make a lot more sense to cast Obama as Harvey Dent/Two-Face. "I believe in Harvey Dent" and all that, and the idea of Obama telling different audiences what they want to hear, sounding moderate but governing left-wing (or vice versa, perhaps, on civil liberties and the war on terrorism), etc.
8.6.2009 1:52pm
whistlebj:
Anything negative said about Obama is racist. Don't you get it? We'll figure out why later.
8.6.2009 1:53pm
rick.felt:
By using the "urban" makeup of the Heath Ledger Joker, instead of the urbane makeup of the Jack Nicholson character, the poster connects Obama to something many of his detractors fear but can't openly discuss.

Everything, and everyone, is racist!

Had the Jack Nicholson incarnation of the Joker been used, the complaint would be that Obama was being made to look too much like a flamboyantly dressed inner-city pimp.
8.6.2009 1:55pm
The Joker:
Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I'm a dog chasing cars. I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it. You know, I just... do things.
8.6.2009 1:58pm
brian:
Did he say the same thing about Bush when Vanity Fair created the same comic?

"George W. Bush: Comic-Book Villain?"


For fun, read the comments underneath the picture!
8.6.2009 1:58pm
Gabriel Malor. (www):
whistlebj's observation is not far from the truth.

Imagine if instead of the "urban" Heath Ledger style-makeup decried by Kennicott as "subtly coded racism" had been the "urbane" makeup of the zoot-suit and pimp-hat wearing Jack Nicholson Joker. Mmmm-hmmm.
8.6.2009 2:00pm
some guy:
Thanks, WaPo, for giving us one of the weakest, most convoluted arguments of all time. And yet, I expected it much sooner.
8.6.2009 2:00pm
theobromophile (www):
Perhaps because the poster is ultimately a racially charged image. By using the "urban" makeup of the Heath Ledger Joker

If they used a non-urban Joker, the white make-up would have been a KKK reference.
8.6.2009 2:01pm
MCM (mail):
The columnar ad on the right of my screen is advertising a website to meet "attractive black singles" near me. I never thought I would see the day that the danger virus reaches even volokh.com
8.6.2009 2:05pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):
The word [racism] has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies 'something not desirable'.
8.6.2009 2:07pm
Phil Smith (mail):
Not even that, C the E, just 'anything we have a momentary need to denigrate'.
8.6.2009 2:09pm
Mark Buehner (mail):

You know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go "according to plan." Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all "part of the plan." But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!


Truer words never spoken. How many of us want to throw our lives, freedoms, and fortunes into the hands of government? Our health? Does anybody REALLY think the government will provide better health care, better service, shorter lines, cheaper anything?

Of course not. Its not that the true believers are THAT naive. Its that they prefer the certainty of the government bending them over to the uncertainty of what free markets could do, from day to day. If Obamacare puts grandma on an iceberg, nobody panics, becuase its all 'part of the plan'.
8.6.2009 2:10pm
Kenvee:
Isn't the author himself being racist by assuming that anything "urban" automatically equals black and violent? This is one of the most convoluted arguments I think I've ever read.

That said, I have absolutely no idea how the Joker is connected to socialism. He was an anarchist. But I do love the "I just...do things" quote, it seems to fit. :)
8.6.2009 2:13pm
KenB (mail):
Isn't it racist to say that a reference to urban criminals is necessarily a reference to African-Americans? To my way of thinking, that is considerably less of a stretch than the argument made by the Post.
8.6.2009 2:16pm
JPG:
MCMThe columnar ad on the right of my screen is advertising a website to meet "attractive black singles" near me. I never thought I would see the day that the danger virus reaches even volokh.com

Mine adverstises "Hold-Up Suspender Company", with a black model on the picture. Not that I want to brag about it, but my VC google ads are way more urban and ethnic than yours.
8.6.2009 2:17pm
Satori:
This is what happens when you write while at the Post Pub.
8.6.2009 2:17pm
rick.felt:
As political commentary the poster isn't that good. It's mostly just calling Obama destructive and evil. Of the post hoc explanations for how Obama is like the Joker, some are decent but all seem a little forced. As others have explained, Two-Face a superior comparison, and fits the message that Obama isn't the squeaky-clean

The reaction to the Obama/Joker poster has been hilarious. It would be challenging to come up with a parody that's as good as the honest-to-God reaction of the left has been. You want the real subtext of this poster? Try "the left can dish it out, but can't take it." We had eight years of Bush as cowboy, chimp, Alfred E. Newman, vampire, Nazi, Joker, etc., without disapproval from the left, but when the same thing is done to Obama, it's time for endless chin-pulling and critiquing.
8.6.2009 2:17pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

That said, I have absolutely no idea how the Joker is connected to socialism.

Instead of taking it for himself, he burned their money in a pile.
8.6.2009 2:17pm
JK:
While I agree that it's a huge stretch to see racism in those posters, I'm really having a hard time seeing any meaningful point in them at all. As far as I can tell it's just meant to make Obama look silly, which is fine, political cartoons do it all the time, but it's a missed opportunity for real political satire.

I'd honest like to hear what the deep meaning is here.

Secondly, I agree with the right that accusations of racism have generally gotten out of hand, but I've lost most of my sympathy for them with all the accusations of sexism regarding anyone who criticizes Sarah Palin.
8.6.2009 2:18pm
Houston Lawyer:
My 11 and 13 year olds use "racist" as a generic term. I have been accused by them of being "sex racist" "weight racist" and so on. I don't bother to correct them. Their use of the term is no worse than that of the writer.
8.6.2009 2:21pm
JK:

Instead of taking it for himself, he burned their money in a pile.

Meh, that's not socialism, that more like nihilism or misguided anti-materialism. Maybe the Jack Nicholson Joker throwing money to the crowd is a bit socialist, but it in context it's clearly more about celebrity and nihilism as he tries to gas the people he gave money to.
8.6.2009 2:21pm
Scape:
Maybe it's just unsettling because it evokes images of black face? Even if it's not directly racist itself, people see the white face paint and it reminds them of more blatantly racist imagery.
8.6.2009 2:24pm
rarango (mail):
The WaPo continues its downward spiral following close on the heels of the NYT. First we have the publisher selling access to her "salon." Then we have the two idiots who are even worse comedians than they are journalists making crude comments about Ms Clinton thinking that crudity is comedic. And now this piece of convoluted crap that would embarass Noam Chomsky. Sad to say we no long have a national paper that has any relevance, integrity or credibility. Rather a shame.
8.6.2009 2:27pm
rick.felt:
Secondly, I agree with the right that accusations of racism have generally gotten out of hand, but I've lost most of my sympathy for them with all the accusations of sexism regarding anyone who criticizes Sarah Palin.

That's fair. Let me suggest that there's a difference between a criticism that's motivated by race, and racist criticism. The Obama/Joker poster is not "racist" but it may have been created by someone who dislikes Obama because of his race and wants him to depict him as evil.

I think something similar is at play with Palin. I don't think that the attacks on her intelligence, competence, or views are sexist attacks. (The number of attacks that I would call "sexist" are low, and are of the "she needs to take care of her kids" and "she's not a real woman" variety). But I do think that sexism motivates much of the criticism of Palin.
8.6.2009 2:29pm
MCM (mail):
Maybe it's just unsettling because it evokes images of black face? Even if it's not directly racist itself, people see the white face paint and it reminds them of more blatantly racist imagery.


I do think the poster is striking because Obama is black; thus the white-face is all the more evocative. But I don't think that makes it racist.
8.6.2009 2:29pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
JK... there is no deep meaning. The left spotted them somewhere, and began accusing Republicans and conservatives of being racist for spreading the meme, despite the absolute lack of evidence that anybody Republican or conservative was even remotely associated with the posters, or that any significant numbers of Republicans or conservatives were circulating or promoting the image.
8.6.2009 2:30pm
Frecklerock:
You regular VC'ers are too kind. I'm a proud left wing lib and fond of Mr. Obama, but the poster's satire, while perhaps rough, is straightforward enough: It suggests that Mr. Obama is pursuing policies that, like the Joker in the most recent Batman film, will tear the fabric of our society apart, lead to the destruction of lives and rights and wealth, and all the usual hyperbole heard on Fox News or elsewhere. Mr. Obama's "socialism" will lead to our destruction, much in the same way that the Joker attempted to do just that with his insanity and violence and knives and bombs. Hyperbole, yes. Satire, yes. Racism? Not so fast ....
8.6.2009 2:30pm
ShelbyC:

The Obama/Joker poster is not "racist" but it may have been created by someone who dislikes Obama because of his race and wants him to depict him as evil.


Maybe, or maybe it was created by someone who dislikes him for his politics?
8.6.2009 2:33pm
rarango (mail):
I eagerly await publication of the definitive "code word dictionary" that will tell a poor oaf like me what all the code words really are, who can use them in what contexts--then we could at least have a common reference for the whole collection of "isms" and their referents.
8.6.2009 2:35pm
MCM (mail):
Maybe, or maybe it was created by someone who dislikes him for his politics?


I think the word "socialism" is a subtle hint in that direction...
8.6.2009 2:36pm
NaG (mail):
Quite frankly, the posters themselves make no sense. The Joker (Heath Ledger's version or otherwise) was never a socialist, but an anarchist. The Joker was also random and capricious in his methods, while I think most people would agree (even his detractors) that President Obama is organized and planned -- certainly much more so than President Clinton was commonly thought to be. And besides, the Joker was never a reflection of the inner-city black culture -- he was a psycho white boy through and through. At best, the poster simply hopes to make President Obama appear dangerous for seemingly advocating a socialist agenda.

Perhaps it is fitting that WaPost's critique of the posters is as illogical and confusing as the posters themselves.
8.6.2009 2:36pm
Constantin:
This is one of the most idiotic things I've ever read. Also in the mix is Slate.com's insane piece on homophobia in rap, claiming that the rise of the term "no homo" in hip-hop is some kind of leap forward for tolerance. Big week for the WaPo company.
8.6.2009 2:39pm
Joshua (mail):
I can't decide which is sillier:

(a) The Obama-as-Joker meme itself [personally I see a lot more of Dolores Umbridge (from the Harry Potter series) in Obama than I ever did the Joker],

(b) the fact that some MSM hack bothered to devote an entire article to it, or

(c) said MSM hack's convoluted logic in calling the meme racist.
8.6.2009 2:40pm
Federal Dog:
"I've lost most of my sympathy for them with all the accusations of sexism regarding anyone who criticizes Sarah Palin."

Did you mean Hillary Clinton? That was her platform after all.
8.6.2009 2:42pm
Real American (mail):
The chickens....are coming home.......to roost!
8.6.2009 2:46pm
DangerMouse:
I think that the left's reaction to this is hilarious, and will only encourage more mockery of their Dear Leader. Bush rolled with the punches, Obama can't.
8.6.2009 2:49pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Another possibility is that this wasn't supposed to be the Joker from the Dark Knight but rather the Gangster Prankster from Black Scorpion II. A parody of a parody so to speak.
8.6.2009 2:49pm
Federal Dog:
"people see the white face paint and it reminds them of more blatantly racist imagery."

Shame on Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson, and Cesar Romero then.
8.6.2009 2:52pm
Officious Intermeddler:
AllahPundit had this right. It's a parlor game for "progressive" dorks: take any conservative attack on the Obama, assume racism, and connect as many dots as it takes to get from Point A to Point B.

In reality, what has the left worked up about the poster isn't that it's racism, but that it's a hideous blasphemy against their secular messiah, the Risen Christ of American politics.
8.6.2009 2:52pm
theobromophile (www):
My Volokh blog-ad is for the Visa black card and has a picture of a hottie surfer. :)
8.6.2009 2:58pm
KilgoreTrout_XL (mail):
@ DangerMouse

Nope. The hilarity here is that you think that a Washington Post article represents the "left's reaction."

It's definitely rich grist for the humor mill- those who promote it display a profound inability to understand a Hollywood blockbuster about Batman, socialism (more likely), or both (likelier still).

And of course, blackface is a pretty obvious image that you all have conveniently failed to mention.
8.6.2009 3:03pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):


Or perhaps this was supposed to be Jack in the Box from Kurt Busiek's "Astro City."
8.6.2009 3:07pm
DangerMouse:
Kilgore,

A profound inability to understand both Batman and socialism? You have interesting ideas and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.....
8.6.2009 3:08pm
SFC B (mail) (www):
I think far better text on the poster would have been "Why so Socialist?" in the same text as the "Why so serious?" on the original posters.

It still wouldn't get past the Joker is a anarchist problem, but it would still be a way cooler reference.
8.6.2009 3:09pm
apetra (mail):
White makeup. On a pig.

Whoops, wrong meme.

White makeup = "whiteface", Obama in "whiteface".

Surely, that's as racist as anyone in "blackface"?

It's only fair.
8.6.2009 3:09pm
rarango (mail):
For the life of me I thought Batman, Robin, Alfred, Joker and the rest of the dudes in the comics were simply cartoon characters in movies--who knew they all had deeper meanings. I really do need to get out more. Or perhaps some might not want to take cartoons so seriously.
8.6.2009 3:14pm
PersonFromPorlock:

Cato The Elder:
The word [racism] has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies 'something not desirable'.
8.6.2009 2:07pm

Phil Smith:
Not even that, C the E, just 'anything we have a momentary need to denigrate'.


Denigrate? Denigrate? Oh, the shame!

Incidentally, Obama's policies aren't socialistic: so far, at least, they're just good old fashioned take-care-of-your-buddies corruption on a mammoth scale.
8.6.2009 3:14pm
geokstr (mail):
I see this more as a sarcastic take-off on the angelic poster of Obama in blue and red that came out during the campaign.
8.6.2009 3:16pm
Wundrin:
As long as you're on the general topic of Obama posters, Eugene, could you comment on whether the NORML poster of Obabma smoking a joint is fair use or not?

8.6.2009 3:17pm
JK:

I think far better text on the poster would have been "Why so Socialist?" in the same text as the "Why so serious?" on the original posters.

ahh, we're definitely making progress. A little obscure, but still good. Maybe if we could play on the Joker = destruction = breaking down the old health care system we could deal with the anarchist problem to an extent?
8.6.2009 3:19pm
KilgoreTrout_XL (mail):
Why so touchy?

It's a poster. Relax- I didn't attribute it as representing a conservative, majority viewpoint. Or _your_ viewpoint.

We're discussing whether or not it's (ooooh) racist. At least I thought we were.

Blackface was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw this a couple of days ago. You don't have to look hard to draw that inference.

And Apetra, please spare me the nonsensical free association piglets. Thanks.
8.6.2009 3:22pm
krs:
Wow. That's rather ridiculous. I was expecting the article to comment on the use of white face paint.

The article seems to boil down to the idea that (1) the Joker is violent, (2) this particular Joker is more violent than prior Jokers, and (3) if you call a black man violent who isn't particularly violent, you're perpetuating a stereotype.

But Cesar Romero's Joker was kinda violent.
8.6.2009 3:23pm
JK:

For the life of me I thought Batman, Robin, Alfred, Joker and the rest of the dudes in the comics were simply cartoon characters in movies--who knew they all had deeper meanings. I really do need to get out more. Or perhaps some might not want to take cartoons so seriously

Bah, there's no inherent reason why characters from "cartoons" can't have deeper meaning. Why is literary significanace reserved for "serious novels"? Or are you suggesting that all fictional characters have no "deeper meaning," and that Ahab from Moby Dick is simply a character in a book with no deeper significance?
8.6.2009 3:25pm
TalkingHead:
It's like DC Mayor Marion Barry once (reportedly) said "the laws of gravity are racist."
8.6.2009 3:27pm
anomdebus (mail):
I would think it is relevant that the original source is also in whiteface, so it is 'like', not 'made to seem like'.
8.6.2009 3:28pm
rick.felt:
My Volokh blog-ad is for the Visa black card and has a picture of a hottie surfer. :)

Well that's racist, too. Here you have a WHITE surfer who, it is implied through context, "uses" a BLACK card to obtain goods and services. The black card is a mere input, and instrument of commerce, employed in the service of the white surfer. LIKE A SLAVE. And note that surfing is a leisure-time activity. The message is clear: by exploiting that which is black, whether a card or a person, you as a white person will enjoy more leisure.
8.6.2009 3:30pm
Wundrin:
The NORML poster link
8.6.2009 3:38pm
rick.felt:
I see this more as a sarcastic take-off on the angelic poster of Obama in blue and red that came out during the campaign.

We've had plenty of those posters. Obama's fans didn't throw a fit over those, as far as I know. Most of these left the original art undistorted and mocked Obama's message and messianism. Those were relatively gentle.

This is different, though. This is the first poster to depict Obama as grotesque and to suggest that Obama is evil. That has really hit a nerve, apparently. This poster goes after Obama the same way that some on the left went after Bush, and the left is starting to learn what it's like to be on the receiving end of vitriol, having images of their heros defaced.
8.6.2009 3:40pm
MixedRace2:
THIS IS RACIST!!! Portraying Obama as anything other than Christ, Buddha or Mohamed is racist. Wait...er..uh..actually portraying Obama in a turban is racist too. So therefore portraying Obama as anything other than Christ or Buddha is racist. All right everyone got it now? Also anyone who disagrees is racist too.
8.6.2009 3:40pm
Jaime non-Lawyer:
Sometimes a Joker is just a joker.
8.6.2009 3:42pm
Chico's Bail Bonds (mail):
It is reverse black face, i.e. reverse racism.
8.6.2009 3:43pm
Not-so-random observer:
Blackface was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw this a couple of days ago. You don't have to look hard to draw that inference.


We can't know if it's racist until we know who made the poster.

If the poster originated with a black advocacy group complaining that Obama is being Uncle Tommish by embracing a western-European idea concocted by dead white guys, then all is forgiven.
8.6.2009 3:45pm
Juris Deek Sean:
Meh. I'm more partial to "Why so stimulus?"

Oh, that's racist?! Er... nevermind.
8.6.2009 3:50pm
MixedRace2:

"We can't know if it's racist until we know who made the poster" I disagree..I say it is racist so it is. All those in favor say "Aye".

Anyone who disagrees with me and votes "Nay" is a nazi
8.6.2009 3:51pm
DerHahn (mail):
theobromophile :
My Volokh blog-ad is for the Visa black card and has a picture of a hottie surfer. :)


I keep getting that blonde with deep clevage. Google-ads is racist!
8.6.2009 3:51pm
Real Man (mail):
It is reverse black face, i.e. reverse racism.

Yeah. I think the argument is just that he's a black guy in white face, rather than a white guy in black face. It has nothing to do with the Joker at all: it's about putting Obama in white-face and saying, "He's not white. Look how not white he is."
8.6.2009 3:57pm
peterike (mail):
It struck me that, like the Joker, Obama is the leader of a crime syndicate. Namely, his looting and pillaging administration. And like the Joker, they don't care what they burn down in the process.

The Joker is not an Anarchist. He's a Narcissist. It's all about the Joker, all the time. His makeup doesn't disguise him, it shines a spotlight on him. It's a perfect fit for Obama.
8.6.2009 3:59pm
Blorf:
I wonder what the green hair signifies.
8.6.2009 4:00pm
glangston (mail):
This picture has been photoshopped with Obama's face and makes a cogent statement compared to the rest.
8.6.2009 4:10pm
Largo (mail):
My Volokh blog-ad says "Meet your Hong Kong match", even though I met her decades ago.
8.6.2009 4:11pm
CCTrojan:

Scientific studies, which demonstrate the social consequences of living in neighborhoods with high rates of crime, get processed and misinterpreted in the popular unconscious, underscoring the idea. Violence breeds violence.

It is an ugly idea, operating covertly in that gray area that is always supposed to be opened up to honest examination whenever America has one of its "we need to talk this through" episodes. But it lingers, unspoken but powerful, leaving all too many people with the sense that exposure to crime creates an ineluctable propensity to crime.


Take out one word--ineluctable--and I am hard pressed to see what is wrong with the beliefs that this writer labels as racist.
8.6.2009 4:15pm
DG:
There are many valid criticisms of this poster. Anarchy does not equal socialism, etc etc etc. But the racist thing is just plain silly and convinces me even more that the Washington Post has extremely loose editorial controls.

From the point of view of the writer: there are a number of folks - shrinking, but still there - who have absolute belief in President Obama, not as a politician, but as a spiritual figure. Thats key to this sort of racialist commentary.
8.6.2009 4:29pm
Sarcastro (www):
I've always thought Obama was more a Two-Face myself. Though the Mad Hatter would be good too. Maybe Ra's al Ghul, for the aristocrat killing us vibe.

Really, any supervillian would do.

Except Stilt Man. That's totally Biden.
8.6.2009 4:42pm
santa monica (mail) (www):
Rick,
This is different, though. This is the first poster to depict Obama as grotesque and to suggest that Obama is evil. That has really hit a nerve, apparently. This poster goes after Obama the same way that some on the left went after Bush, and the left is starting to learn what it's like to be on the receiving end of vitriol, having images of their heros defaced.


Rick,
Aren't you being a bit silly? Liberals are "starting to learn" how attacks feel? It was not that long ago that Pres. Clinton was in office, and he was the recipient of some brutal shots (some deserved; some less deserved) from the Right. There is no dispute about that. Bush took some shots (some deserved; some not deserved) from the left. And now Obama is taking some shots.

I think it's a real (and intentional) mistake to take the response of one--or a few--source(s) and ascribe the response to liberals at large. Just about all liberals look at this poster and say, "Hmmm. Clever." Or, "Hmmmm. Socialism = Joker . . . stupid." Or some other non-hysterical response. I know that it's more fun to pretend that outliers represent the mainstream, but, REALLY, we all know that this is not true.

Can't we agree that I won't take what Ann Coulter says, or what some confused and hysterical woman might shout at a town hall and pretend that this represents a generalized view of conservatives, or of Republicans? And you agree not to do the same with fringe liberal rants?

As I said, I know that this view will be less fun for many people, especially on a back-and-forth on-line forum. But it might lead to more constructive comments.

Note: There is nothing wrong with examining these wacky ideas, nor with criticizing them. I'm only talking about avoiding extrapolating inappropriately. When a few wack-jobs accused Pres. Clinton of being somehow behind the suicide of Vince Foster, responsible people did not try and associate non-insane Republicans with this extreme view (although Republicans may have been asked to disassociate themselves). Same with Pres. Bush and being behind the 9-11 attacks. When some fringe idiots accused Bush, I don't remember a concerted effort to say, "Hey, this ridiculous view is shared by normal Democrats." (Again, I do recall Dems being asked to repudiate that extremist view, which was proper, I think.)

Sorry for going on at such length. But this is an issue that always rankles me, regardless of who's ox is being gored. It's just so intellectually dishonest, and I think most of the commentators are capable of better analysis.
8.6.2009 4:45pm
tarpon (mail):
I don't seem to recall the WaPo commenting about those truly hideous portrayals of Bush.
8.6.2009 4:48pm
santa monica (mail) (www):
damn. . . "whose ox . . .

preview is my friend
8.6.2009 4:49pm
Federal Dog:
"or what some confused and hysterical woman might shout at a town hall and pretend that this represents a generalized view of conservatives, or of Republicans?"

I honestly think that we shoud leave Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer out of this.
8.6.2009 4:52pm
Sarcastro (www):
Yeah, Obama is so rarely made fun of in picture form! What a softy!
8.6.2009 4:55pm
santa monica (mail) (www):
Fed Dog.
*That's* your response to my post?

Sigh. Never mind.
8.6.2009 5:06pm
rick.felt:
santa monica:

Read the comment that appeared immediately after yours: "I don't seem to recall the WaPo commenting about those truly hideous portrayals of Bush."

You're right: political attacks happen. These posters shouldn't be news. It's a well-executed but not-very-clever photoshop job. Ho-hum. But the fact is that some people on the left who have the ability to get in the Washington Post
think that this poster is worth rebutting and criticizing. So yeah, mean caricatures of presidents didn't start with Bush. But the way some of the left have reacted, they appear to think that it started with Obama.

God help me for engaging with Sarcastro, but he and the left need to make up their minds. If Obama really is frequently "made fun of in picture form," then this poster shouldn't be an issue. It's just another in a long list, right? But that's not the left's reaction. Their reaction is different, because this is the first anti-Obama poster that has some bite to it.
8.6.2009 5:06pm
Federal Dog:
Monica: Chill.
8.6.2009 5:07pm
Lou Gots (mail):
By now we all agree that using "racist" as a general perjorative, with no other content, is really gay.
8.6.2009 5:14pm
SenatorX (mail):
Incidentally, Obama's policies aren't socialistic: so far, at least, they're just good old fashioned take-care-of-your-buddies corruption on a mammoth scale.

Yeah but socialism always contains a large element of that. The political elites dole themselves out huge slices of the collective pie. The masses have to content themselves with idealistic pap while their standard of living is sacrificed for the greater good.
8.6.2009 5:28pm
santa monica (mail) (www):
1. Lou Gots wins the thread.
2. Rick (re 5:06 pm). You make a fair point. But again, I don't think the reaction to the poster is "the Left's." It is the reaction of a very very small section of the left. (Although you were spot-on by pointing out that it is a segment that can get into the WP. Something I should have noted in my original posts.)
8.6.2009 5:28pm
MartyA:
Well, the good thing is that arguments like this will soon be a thing of the past. Once the Kenyan names his Hate Speech Czar, the Czar will make the determinations about what is racist and, therefore, unacceptable and what is not.
Alas, anything that is critical of the Kenyan, his American wife or her children will be speech that will not be tolerated and, after a brief grace period, will be punished (by the soon to be formed "Brown Shirts," a temporary name until something more euphemistically clever, more Hollywood, can be developed). This will all be necessary to get rid of racism and make America a better place, especially for the children. We know you'll understand. Have a nice day.
8.6.2009 5:36pm
ReiltGenGot (mail) (www):
Best reviews of the day about Canada, Canada culture, Personal loan canada and Govrnment jobs canada http://canada.goodnano-av.com/
8.6.2009 5:56pm
ArthurKirkland:
I see no racism in the posters.

I also see little or no point. A fitting reflection of a point of view deteriorating into a pool of Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, the NRA, homophobia, Birthers, rejection of science, town hells and -- population trends willing -- decreasing relevance.
8.6.2009 5:57pm
MixedRace2:
MartyA..we will need you to forward your name, address and social security number to the Office of Correct Thinking immediately. We won't ask for your birth certificate though (because that would be racist). Thank you for your prompt reply.
8.6.2009 6:01pm
ManBearPig:
This is nothing more than an under-utilized mind demonstrating his non-existent intelligence.
8.6.2009 6:08pm
yankev (mail):
1. The poster is off-message, as many have observed.

2. rick.felt

it may have been created by someone who dislikes Obama because of his race and wants him to depict him as evil.

Okay, that's consistent with Janeane Garofalo's opinion that anyone who criticizes or disagrees with Obama is motivated solely by racism. Let's see, was anyone ever at least as critical of a white politician who took stands similar to Obama's? If so, doesn't that suggest that Obama is not being attacked because of a double standard but that his critics are?

3. 'anything we have a momentary need to denigrate'. Careful, that's at least as racist as saying the verboten term "niggardly", especially when you consider that unlike niggardly, denigrate has its roots in a word that means "black".
8.6.2009 6:19pm
Bored Lawyer:

Yeah but socialism always contains a large element of that. The political elites dole themselves out huge slices of the collective pie. The masses have to content themselves with idealistic pap while their standard of living is sacrificed for the greater good


Senator X: Thank you so much for articulating this point so well. Repeat it, again and again, for it gets to the heart of the matter: socialism cannot overcome human nature, and invevitably corruption sets in.

I recall about 15 years ago I was visiting a country with socialized medicine. A scandal broke out when a highly-placed union official (who was closely connected to the ruling party) needed a certain type of operation. For the average working slob, there was a 3-4 month waiting period. He used his connections to jump to the head of the line and get the operation in a couple of days.

That will be our future under Obamacare. The poor slobs will have to wait for rationed care, while the politically well connected will arrange to get theirs in a hurry.
8.6.2009 6:23pm
yankev (mail):

A fitting reflection of a point of view deteriorating into a pool of Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, the NRA, homophobia, Birthers, rejection of science, town hells
For the record, the NRA's criticism of Senator and now President Obama has been focussed, limited to relevant topics, and accurate.
8.6.2009 6:39pm
Seamus (mail):

Not even that, C the E, just 'anything we have a momentary need to denigrate'.



It's pretty obvious that Phil Smith is a racist, as shown by his use of the "denigrate" [L denigratus, pp. of denigrare, fr. de- + nigrare to blacken, fr. nigr-, niger black].

Just report quietly for reeducation, Comrade Smith.
8.6.2009 6:48pm
Rabel (mail):
For what it's worth, the original photoshop seems to have come from a Muslin college student in Chicago. Odd that that's such a mystery.
Link from National Review's Anthony Dick.
Fourth image down if the link works:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/khateeb88/
8.6.2009 6:50pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
This is different, though. This is the first poster to depict Obama as grotesque and to suggest that Obama is evil. That has really hit a nerve, apparently. This poster goes after Obama the same way that some on the left went after Bush, and the left is starting to learn what it's like to be on the receiving end of vitriol, having images of their heros defaced.
The problem I see is that those backing President Obama, esp. on the left, have overreacted here. The danger to them (and him) is that by overreacting, they have shown that criticism of Obama can get to them, and make them overreact.

I think of it as raising kids - the worst thing that you can do to the kids is let them know when they get to you, because when they know that, they will try it again and again, honing in on your weakness there. That is, for example, why you are not supposed to discipline kids while you are angry.

Combine this with the fact that it is so politically incorrect to attack the President in any substantive way. So, kids being kids (or more likely young adults being young adults who were until recently kids), the overreaction is, I think, almost like a dare to see how much they can get the President and his minions to react, and maybe even overreact.

So, I think that this may embolden a number of people to attack the President. The flood gates may have now opened. It may even be becoming cool to do so.

We shall see.

Note - I was not comparing the people overreacting to the poster to kids, but rather, suggesting that they were the adults who let their kids get to them, and shouldn't have.
8.6.2009 6:52pm
JK:

For the record, the NRA's criticism of Senator and now President Obama has been focussed, limited to relevant topics, and accurate.

Really?
8.6.2009 6:53pm
JK:
I don't know why the link doesn't work, I'll try again . It works in the preview.
8.6.2009 6:55pm
Sarcastro (www):

So, I think that this may embolden a number of people to attack the President. The flood gates may have now opened. It may even be becoming cool to do so.

At last, the Floodgates! People suddenly mocking the President! Cause no one does that these days!
8.6.2009 7:02pm
WaPo reader (mail):
Funny, I read that very article today and was struck by how awful the argument was -- and I say that as a voter for Obama!
8.6.2009 7:18pm
WaPo reader (mail):
One more thought -- if it's not addressed above. I wonder how hard it would be to collect links to articles saying that opposition to various policies is actually racism. I've seen that argument w/r/t/ opposition to the healthcare initiative, opposition to the stimulus bill, opposition to Sotomayor, etc.
8.6.2009 7:23pm
therut (mail):
I do not even have to read the article or the comments. I am by definintion by the Left a racist. I am white. That is all that matters. Oh yeah, I am from the evil South. I am a woman. Never mind. I have given up on even talking or thinking about race. It is auto gun fire from the Left. I AM A RACIST. I am sick of the left.
8.6.2009 7:40pm
Sarcastro (www):
therut if right. A white guy can't get a break from the Left. Funny how there doesn't seem to be anyone from the Left posting on this thread though.
8.6.2009 7:42pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
Sarcastro:

At last, the Floodgates! People suddenly mocking the President! Cause no one does that these days!

They don't. They mock Barack Obama. You have to be American to be President.
8.6.2009 8:15pm
yankev (mail):
JK, I saw the fact check post during th4e campaign. In short, fact check is wrong, and relied on asking the Obama camp about statements in the ads. The NRA responded to the fact check post, and documented every statement in their ads. Among other thingms, on at least one of these specifics, fact check relied on a summary of the bill in question whereas the NRA relied on the actual text of the bill. I do not recall, but I think there may have beens ome threads on VC at the time that debunked fact check's supposed debunking.

I stand by my original statement. In fact, the NRA's criticism of Obama has been a lot more accurate than the Obama camp's criticsim of the NRA, but that's faint praise.
8.6.2009 8:20pm
/:
PersonFromPorlock: Incidentally, Obama's policies aren't socialistic: so far, at least, they're just good old fashioned take-care-of-your-buddies corruption on a mammoth scale.

Just out of curiosity, how far does that sort of thing go until it becomes socialism?
8.6.2009 8:33pm
Sarcastro (www):
Totally, Leo Marvin! I call Obama the "Present" cause that's President minus "ID," LOL!

I don't need proof of where he was born, I just believe it! After all, why doesn't he release the long form notarized original super platinum dragon certificate? Surely he can't be holding it back to make conservatives look foolish! The only explanation is that he is a Kenyan. Or Indonesian.
8.6.2009 8:33pm
DiversityHire (mail):
I thought it was Cesar Romero…

The poster (in and of itself) is a funny bit of absurdism. The Che/Obama, Obama/Hitler, Obama/Bush mash-up posters, t-shirts, cartoons are similar. The deeper meaning that JK is looking for comes from each person's reaction to the integration of two (or three) powerful symbols and their need to validate their responses with others. The result, I think, is a massively successful bit of social art.
8.6.2009 8:47pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Wow that blog is lame, sarcastro... where the heck did you find that?
8.6.2009 8:51pm
DiversityHire (mail):
Kennicott says the "…poster leaves you with the sense that it has said everything it has to say, and waits only for the media to endorse the message…" But there's no one message, just whatever each person's reaction is, including Kennicott's. He peers deep into the poster and sees violence, urban turmoil, racism, and the need for the press to legitimize ideas. I'm scared of clowns.
8.6.2009 9:16pm
Prosecutorial Indiscretion:
1. The poster is off-message, as many have observed.

I'm not sure about this. If it was as off-message as many people assume, I don't think it would resonate as much as it has. My suspicion is that the subtext people pick up is that the Joker, doing things for his own amusement, f**ked Gotham up, much as Obama, in a position to pursue large-scale abstract ideals he's had for decades, is f**king America up.

With respect to those who say that liberals have already dealt with this with Clinton, two responses: that was quite a long time ago, and Clinton was never a messianic figure. For every dumbass Birther on the right, there's some idiot on the left who continues to think that Obama will overcome fundamentals forces of economics and human nature to recreate Eden (and that's even after quite a few people have already taken a drag on cold, hard reality). While the majority of the Left may not share in the overreacting, it sure looks like quite a few people can't handle the poster.
8.6.2009 9:27pm
DiversityHire (mail):

this is the first anti-Obama poster that has some bite to it

The poster isn't anti-Obama in and of itself. An anarcho-socialist who thinks the Joker had the right idea and that Batman is an oppressive fascist vigilante might find the connection to Obama reassuring and empowering. If The Dark Knight can be seen as a conservative movie, then its supposed villain surely can be seen sympathetically.
8.6.2009 9:47pm
James Eaves-Johnson (mail) (www):
During the campaign, I received a campaign photo of John McCain and Sarah Palin. The first thing I did with it was to grab a few sharpies and deface it in the Joker style of Dark Knight. I put it up in my office at work.

Personally, I just found it an immensely enjoyable and hilarious activity. That people have done the same with Obama does not surprise me in the least ... and probably for similar reasons.
8.6.2009 10:20pm
PersonFromPorlock:

PersonFromPorlock: Incidentally, Obama's policies aren't socialistic: so far, at least, they're just good old fashioned take-care-of-your-buddies corruption on a mammoth scale.

/: Just out of curiosity, how far does that sort of thing go until it becomes socialism?


Pretty far: AFAIK, the Swedish government has never been known for corruption.

Granted, 'socialism' can be a dandy cover for scoundrels looting a country, but the real thing is principled enough, however ill-advised those principles are.
8.6.2009 10:28pm
mcbain:
I for one would like to thank Philip Kennicott for writing this article. By making sure that the word racist can no longer be used in a meaningful way he is attempting to move us into a world with no racism. He is clearly a postmodernist.
8.6.2009 10:50pm
Fedya (www):
Person from Porlock wrote:

Pretty far: AFAIK, the Swedish government has never been known for corruption.


About 15 years ago, Mona Sahlin, one of the Swedish cabinet members who was the favorite to become the next PM, was caught using her government credit card for personal use. She kept doing it after she said she'd stop.

She was (rightly) passed over for PM when the then-PM stepped down, with all the wailing from the usual suspects about how horrible it was that the new PM didn't have a vulva. (Well, they didn't say it that way, but it was clear that they were willing to overlook Sahlin's larceny because she was a woman.)

Sahlin ended up getting a post in the EU Cabinet, before eventually getting back into domestic politics and being named head of the Socialist Party, which stands a good chance of winning the next election.
8.7.2009 12:03am
Nomilk:
Did he say the same thing about Bush when Vanity Fair created the same comic?


Actually, that was the best part of the article:

Yes, in an image by Drew Friedman published online by Vanity Fair on July 29, 2008. That drawing at least played into a view of Bush popular among his detractors, that the former president was unpredictable and fast on the draw when it came to geopolitics. But the danger many of Obama's detractors detect is more of calculating, long-standing deception, that he is quietly and secretly marshaling a socialist agenda, a view that would be better served by imagery that recalled "The Manchurian Candidate."


Or put more simply: Bush-Joker parody, good; Obama-Joker parody, bad.
8.7.2009 12:42am
MCM (mail):
About 15 years ago, Mona Sahlin, one of the Swedish cabinet members who was the favorite to become the next PM, was caught using her government credit card for personal use. She kept doing it after she said she'd stop.


That's all you've got? Not trying to move the goal posts, here, but he didn't say "Sweden has never had a corrupt politician", he just said that it hadn't be "known for corruption".

Maybe I don't read up on Swedish politics as often as I should, but I think we do a lot worse than one woman getting loose with the credit card.
8.7.2009 9:29am
Olorin (mail):
Krugman on Health Care Debate

Mr. Krugman seems to want to continue to connect unrelated issues by attributing the anti-health care reform movement to racial attitudes as well. Again, I don't really see the connection in his argument, but at lease he does include the comment that "we don't know how many of the protesters are birthers, but it wouldn't be surprising if it's a substantial fraction". Now, I agree the "birthers" are pretty nutty, but connecting them to average Americans who simply want to discuss health care, is not very "progressive".
8.7.2009 10:14am
Thomass (mail):
Kenvee:

"That said, I have absolutely no idea how the Joker is connected to socialism. He was an anarchist. But I do love the "I just...do things" quote, it seems to fit. :)"

The 'just do things' quote was another joker lie. He always had a big plan.... and lied and manipulated everyone on his path towards his goals... ahem...
8.7.2009 1:29pm
Elais:

therut if right. A white guy can't get a break from the Left. Funny how there doesn't seem to be anyone from the Left posting on this thread though


I white, female and a proud, life-long lefty and I'm posting on this thread. Aren't you glad?

I don't have much of an opinion of the Joker!Obama, it seems more like a reverse oreo, black on the inside, white on the outside than any depiction of Obama as a socialist or evil.
8.7.2009 1:36pm
Thomass (mail):
JK:

"ahh, we're definitely making progress. A little obscure, but still good. Maybe if we could play on the Joker = destruction = breaking down the old health care system we could deal with the anarchist problem to an extent?"

Anarchists ARE socialists...
8.7.2009 1:37pm
antisocialist:


Instead of taking it for himself, he burned their money in a pile.

Meh, that's not socialism, that more like nihilism or misguided anti-materialism.

it's a depiction of what socialism actually accomplishes as distinguished from what it promises to do.
8.7.2009 1:41pm
Jenn Mikosz (mail):
Holy Crap, Batman! Caesar Romero was Cuban! Cubans are socialists and minority group members...WaPo has got this whole thing figured out!
8.7.2009 1:43pm
Thomass (mail):
MCM (mail):

"That's all you've got? Not trying to move the goal posts, here, but he didn't say "Sweden has never had a corrupt politician", he just said that it hadn't be "known for corruption"."

Most corruption is legal so it's hard to say whether it exists or not… as hardly anyone cares.

You leave office and are given cushy high paying jobs, or speaking gigs, from people (industry / governments / interest groups) you did favors for while in office... and they buy your stupid books (en mass)… that no one reads. They probably also have the same dynamic over there with the media. If you're in the media, when someone from your party does this stuff.. well, it's just a job / book / speaking gig.... ergo, its never reported or even looked at.
8.7.2009 1:44pm
Ed Piman (mail):
Obama = evil clown. What's so hard to understand?
8.7.2009 2:00pm
Anon and Anon:
Isn't there a basic mistake in the first sentence, that the Joker, up until Ledger, had an iconic image, but it wasn't until the latest movie that the image was makeup? (And isn't that a pretty basic mistake for a culture critic to make?)
8.7.2009 2:04pm
Disintelligentsia (mail):
Well, the WaPo missed the most obvious LOGICAL conclusion to the joker poster. Batman is known as the "Dark Knight" - clearly a reference to defending black people. Further, he defends the urban Gotham from villains, the chief of which is the Joker. Therefore, this banal poster clearly paints Obama as the great opponent of all urban blacks because he is identified as the nemesis of their chief champion - the Dark Knight. Right?

Oh, and Bruce Wayne was an orphan, so now Obama is the enemy of orphans. Bruce Wayne is also incredibly rich. So he's an enemy of the rich (ok, that was a gimme). Batman NEVER uses a gun (in his modern incarnation - when he was first created, he was old school on criminals and completely copacetic with killing with punks with guns) so therefore, Obama must love guns?
8.7.2009 3:12pm
Max (mail):
The Children of Alinsky are freaking out because they live by Alinsky's Rules. Their world is being turned upside down by the street level graffiti artists propagating this image.
8.7.2009 3:16pm
Henry Woodbury (mail):

An anarcho-socialist who thinks the Joker had the right idea and that Batman is an oppressive fascist vigilante might find the connection to Obama reassuring and empowering.


This isn't as far off as it sounds. When the first Batman movie came out a columnist for one of the art magazines -- ArtForum I think -- made exactly that claim. The writer paired the Jack Nicholson Joker with free-spirited erotic photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and the Michael Keaton Batman with "repressed" critic Hilton Kramer.
8.7.2009 3:45pm
eddy:
An artist takes an October 23, 2006 Time magazine cover, adds joker make-up to it. Uploads the image to Flickr in January 2009 with the comment "Not indicative of my political views."

Someone else takes this altered image, deletes the Time magazine text, adds "socialism" to the image and posts it in LA.

Then the mental masterbators take over and infuse the make-up choices with subtle strands of racism? A world gone mad!

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And many people don't have the luxury of being able to create original art when mocking someone.
8.7.2009 4:01pm
Spitzer:
Not surprising that someone called an anti-Obama poster racist.

What is surprising is that so many in the MSM now see their principal task to be running public relations for the white house.
8.7.2009 5:03pm
JH (mail):
I see the image as fitting.

In the movie didn't the Joker tell everyone a different story about his scar smile? Once it garnered sympathy and another to invoke fear.

Doesn't Obama do the same thing? Tell different groups a different story depending on how our hallowed leader wants that group to react/think.
8.7.2009 5:24pm
Buford Gooch (mail):
Phil: Not even that, C the E, just 'anything we have a momentary need to denigrate'.



You said "denigrate". Racist.
8.7.2009 6:19pm
Paul M. Jones (mail) (www):
How is Obama like the Joker? The Ledger Joker states, while burning the pile of cash, that "It's not about the money. It's about *sending a message.*" The Obama-as-Joker poster tells us the message: socialism.
8.7.2009 7:49pm
BD57 (mail):
socialism is the product, Obama the salesman.

Obama is pretty, smooth, well-spoken .... it's the product being sold that accounts for his appearance on the poster.

Because that's what socialism does wherever its tried.
8.7.2009 7:57pm
Flubber (mail):
As usual, it is completely forgotten by everyone that Obama is half white, NOT black, and therefore there is simply no possible way to spin him in white makeup as being racist unless it is explicitly denied that he is half white.
8.7.2009 9:43pm
jobog (mail):
Smart Flubber! Thats a brilliant analysis, go back to your coloring books.

I'm not a huge Obama supporter, however, when I saw the Obama joker poster, it was unmistakable that it evoked images of blackface. Beyond that, the sides of his mouth are cut open, as if he's been butchered. It seems quite odd, and to say that its racist is certainly not a stretch. It is a stretch, however, to say the racism is just a mistake. Anyone smart enough to create this poster, certainly didn't overlook the obvious inferences it makes.
8.8.2009 4:00pm
Graphictruth (mail) (www):
I'm not sure what to make of the intent behind the poster; unlike many folks in the blogsphere, I try to not pretend that I can accurately read minds.

However, I can speak from attritional experience - there are certain fora where, if you are speaking to a self-identified Conservative, you will be 85% assured that you are speaking to some combination of xenophobic isims that are utterly impervious to reason.

It becomes reflexive to assume that ALL conservatives are racist, sexist morons. This is unfortunate, but at the same time, if the Elders of a community do NOT speak out against excess and stupidity, the perception is that they approve the message. With the likes of Cheney, Rove and Limbaugh wandering around and dominating the message, it's really quite difficult to argue a Conservative case that touches on human rights, economics or liberties. Frankly, these people have raped the Honor Code.

I think I speak for a large swathe of folk when I say that dishonorable and/or incompetent actions speak louder than ideologically correct speech. There's nothing conservative about dishonorable or incompetent behavior - but far too much of it has been tolerated out of misguided allegiance or party loyalty.

Sadly, I think that most genuinely intelligent conservatives have decided to retire to the sidelines, rather that speak out against clear violations of public trust and civic responsibility. I've noticed a sharp decline in the quality of Conservative public speech since, oh, roughly 2004.

I consider myself an anti-authoritarian centrist in US terms and moderately Conservative in Canadian terms, I've been called a "Liberal" - in a semantic usage identical to "poopy-head" - more times than I can count.

Anyway, I don't think this issue deserves any Deep Thought. Indeed, it's a rather good illustration of the sheer lack of genuine, informed debate. It's usage and the reactions to it that assume as if it were informative and meaningful, is all the condemnation it needs, just as one need not degrade or criticise Orly Taitz or Sarah Palin for content. One really only needs to link to them and presume - with accuracy - that intelligent life-forms will reach the proper conclusion.

Sorry for not providing a "liberal" example. I'm sure they are out there, but the closest I can come from is Arianna Huffington, in spots.

And that should be seen as a problem, frankly. Right now the debate in the public square on many critical issues is not between "Liberal" and "Conservative," it's between "Rational" and "Irrational." Those with an independent bias are deciding on their politics based on what sort of people they DON'T want to be confused with, rather than any deeper appreciation of the issues.
8.9.2009 2:28pm
bandit (mail):
All criticism of Obama is clearly racist and if you don't agree you're the Kleagle. That's easy - can I be a full time lib pundit now?
8.10.2009 10:00am

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